Changing Colors: New Art Exhibits in NYC This Fall

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Critic’s Pick: Few artists are as right on as Mierle Laderman Ukeles, who in her five-decade-plus career has created a generous and muscular body of work of performances, interventions, and other projects that have dealt swift, sharp blows to the systems and frameworks imposed on art and culture by capitalism. In 1968, after giving birth to her first child, a daughter, she began to divide her attention (happily, it must be noted) between motherhood and her art practice. Rather than see herself, as so many female artists did, as failing the call of the avant-garde, she remapped its margins, recognizing that all her labors — both in the studio and in the home — were efforts made to support and preserve life’s forward momentum, its future. (“Mark [Rothko] didn’t change diapers,” she once quipped.) The following year, Ukeles wrote one of the great texts on art and labor, Manifesto! Maintenance Art: Proposal for an Exhibition “Care,” in which she argued that maintenance work — the largely unseen labor that’s neither flashy nor fun nor well paid — is necessary, and therefore should be made visible and considered vital. “After the revolution,” she offered by way of example, “who’s going to pick up the garbage on Monday morning?” For her groundbreaking “I Make Maintenance Art One Hour Every Day,” she photographed three hundred office maintenance workers, asking them to think of their work as art for one hour of a day. This led to Ukeles becoming the first and only artist-in-residence for New York’s Department of Sanitation, an unpaid position she still holds today. With the Queens Museum’s “Mierle Laderman Ukeles: Maintenance Art” (through February 19, New York City Building, Flushing Meadows–Corona Park,, Ukeles gets her very first (and long-overdue) retrospective, one that — in the artist’s own words — promises to “keep the contemporaryart­museum groovy keep the homefires burning.” — Jennifer Krasinski

‘Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight’ Through January 2, 2017 “Patience, dear, patience.” Such was the advice the painter Carmen Herrera gave when asked in June to lend wisdom to young artists. She should know: She sold her first painting at the age of 89. Now, at 101, Herrera has landed a solo show at the Whitney, her first New York museum exhibition in almost twenty years. This modest survey of around fifty works examines how the Cuban-born hard-edge painter arrived at her rigid mature style, focusing particularly on the years 1948–1978. One especially noteworthy section looks at her time in Paris and includes works that have never before been publicly exhibited. Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort Street, — Pac Pobric

‘Cecily Brown: Rehearsal’ October 7–December 18 It is a shame that so few painters are colorists on the order of Cecily Brown, but perhaps that’s for the best. She deserves special standing among her peers for paintings that, at their finest, are an embarrassment of chromatic riches. But Brown’s drawings are less familiar, and this show at the Drawing Center is the first to focus on them. What, exactly, does a great colorist do in a medium where color is ancillary? In the first place, she (or perhaps the curators) cheats a bit and expands the definition of drawing: A number of the eighty works in this exhibition are actually watercolors. The Drawing Center, 35 Wooster Street, — Pac Pobric

Agnes Martin October 7–January 11, 2017 The painter Agnes Martin had a spare aesthetic. She made her abstract pictures with muted colors (blue, gray, dusty orange) across grids on perfectly square canvases. For much of her career, she was labeled a minimalist, but at heart, she was a mystic. She felt herself to be an abstract expressionist and considered her grids to be inscrutable. “Take beauty,” she once said. “It’s a very mysterious thing, isn’t it?” Depending on your disposition, the mystery will either deepen or come into focus at this first full retrospective of Martin’s art since her death in 2004. It presents 110 works, including her only completed film, which follows a child as he wanders from the mountains to the sea. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, — Pac Pobric

‘Valentin de Boulogne: Beyond Caravaggio’ October 7–January 16, 2017 Valentin de Boulogne is poorly known today, but among his seventeenth-century contemporaries in Rome, he was widely respected. This French follower of Caravaggio, who inherited the Italian master’s emphatic realism, was adept in a range of subjects, from everyday scenes of musicians and cardsharps to contemplative depictions of saints and martyrs. Because he died so young (he was only 41) and so few of his paintings survive (around sixty in total), it is difficult to see his art in depth; this Metropolitan show brings together 45 of his existing pictures, including, remarkably, every one that belongs to the Louvre in Paris. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, — Pac Pobric

‘Word and Image: Martin Luther’s Reformation’ October 7–January 22, 2017 Five hundred years ago in October, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany, demanding to know why church authorities were accepting fees for absolving parishioners of temporal sins. Theologically, the act was groundbreaking, but it would likely have been a local affair had it not been for the advent of then-novel media like the printing press, which allowed Luther and his followers to spread their message. Through ninety objects including paintings and manuscripts (one highlight is a draft of Luther’s translation of the Old Testament), this show looks at how that message made it across Europe. Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison Avenue, — Pac Pobric 

‘Max Beckmann in New York’ October 19–February 20, 2017 Max Beckmann was 66 years old in the closing days of 1950 when he left his home on the Upper West Side and headed across town to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see its installation of one of his paintings — a self-portrait completed earlier that year. Beckmann, unfortunately, never made it to the museum: At 69th Street and Central Park West, he was struck down by a heart attack. The end of his life helped inspire this show, which looks at fourteen pictures that Beckmann made after settling in New York in 1949 (including that tangentially fatal self-portrait), along with 25 works made prior to the move. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, — Pac Pobric

‘Mark Leckey: Containers and Their Drivers’ October 23–March 5, 2017 In certain circles — among the youngest of artists, in particular — the British post-conceptualist Mark Leckey holds deep sway. Leckey builds inroads between cultures, as with his short film Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, which documents dance in British discothèques from the Seventies through the Nineties, or with another of his shorts, Made in ‘Eaven, in which he digitally rendered a Jeff Koons balloon-bunny sculpture and transferred the images to film. The comprehensive exhibition will provide a deeper sense of his practice and also a look into his latest stirrings, made especially for the show. MoMA P.S.1, 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Queens, — Pac Pobric

‘Kerry James Marshall: Mastry’ October 25–January 29, 2017 Like any form with a long tradition, portraiture is in constant need of reinvention. Kerry James Marshall, one of our most gifted painters, has long been up to the task. For 35 years, he has been updating old ideas; one of his pictures references Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors in a black hair salon. That Marshall focuses on black subjects is especially important: As he says, there simply aren’t enough of them in museums. At the Met Breuer’s essential retrospective, eighty of his works will be shown, along with forty contextualizing items the artist has plucked from the museum’s collection. Met Breuer, 945 Madison Avenue, — Pac Pobric

‘Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest’ October 26–January 15, 2017 “Pixel Forest” is an apt title for this survey of Pipilotti Rist’s work: Often, the Swiss artist surrounds audiences with giant video projections on all sides, inviting gallery-goers to take a seat and consider flowers, rivers, or fields of green. But she is no sentimentalist; her videos tend to make nature abstract — pixelate it, perhaps — so that technology also plays a heavy role. This exhibition examines thirty years’ worth of work, beginning with her early, single-channel videos of the Eighties. It also features, notably, a new installation, created on the occasion of the show. New Museum, 235 Bowery, — Pac Pobric

‘Iggy Pop Life Class’ November 4–March 26, 2017 In February, twenty-one artists aged nineteen to eighty got together at the New York Academy of Art for a nude life-drawing class. Their subject was Iggy Pop, who stripped down and bared all for his audience. The session was conceptualized by the British artist Jeremy Deller, who said of his idea that Pop’s “body has witnessed much and should be documented.” The drawings that resulted from the class, which were made by students, practicing artists, and retirees, go on view this fall at the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, — Pac Pobric

‘Hanne Darboven: Kulturgeschichte 1880–1983’ November 5–July 30, 2017 There are 1,590 framed items and nineteen found objects in Hanne Darboven’s monumental installation Kulturgeschichte 1880–1983. They include German newspaper clippings from the era of Nazism, propaganda posters from the Russian Revolution, and black-and-white photographs of various New York doorways. The narrative of the work is appropriately wide-ranging, covering everything from the history of media and printmaking to the development of industry in Europe. Like much of Darboven’s art, it is rarely seen in the U.S., and this reinstallation of work affords American audiences a chance to see it for the first time in over a decade. Dia:Chelsea, 545 West 22nd Street, — Pac Pobric

‘Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round So Our Thoughts Can Change Direction’ November 20–March 19, 2017 Francis Picabia was a famously nimble artist. Early in his career, he was an impressionist in the style of Alfred Sisley; then be became bored and morphed into a cubist, then a dadaist, later a surrealist, and eventually, finally, with a late group of naturalistic paintings, a seeming anti-modernist altogether. The name of the show is a direct quote from the artist and speaks to the many -isms of this exhibition (the first major show of Picabia’s work in the U.S.), which will be considered through well over a hundred works of art and a selection of printed archival materials. Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, — Pac Pobric